Baseball Preview: San Francisco Giants
Last year’s record and finish are in parenthesis with projected improvement/decline indicated by plus or minus.
San Francisco Giants (76-85, 3rd in the NL West) +4 games
Get Crunked: Barry Bonds this Spring has looked better than he has in either of the past two seasons — which is good considering he cost around $15 mil. Barry Zito is one of the most consistent starters in all of baseball. Matt Cain appears to be a star on the rise, getting into a serious groove in the 2nd half of the season last year. Bengie Molina is one of the finer defensive catchers in the game, and quite underrated offensively.
Party Foul: This team is old. Very old. From Omar Vizquel to Rich Aurilia, to Ray Durham, Matt Morris, and Ryan Klesko, it’s a group of has-beens. The question is whether or not these guys have one more year left in them. Aside from Bonds, there isn’t any pop in the lineup. Oh yeah, and did I mention, they’re old.
What’d my GM do: All talk regarding the off-season begins and ends with the Barry’s. For just over $15 million, Bonds was retained, which is quite a hefty mark, but lets face it, he’s a crowd draw. Barry Zito was signed unexpectedly to a monstrous 7 year $126 million deal, in which the Giants severely overpaid, but did what they had to do to maintain respectability for the next few years. Moises Alou, Mike Stanton, Shea Hillenbrand, and of course Jason Schmidt departed, and they were all key parts of the team last year. I thought the Bengie Molina and Russ Ortiz signings were good deals, but they probably overpaid for Zito, Dave Roberts, and Rich Aurilia.
Lay it on me Straight: It’s a total wild card team. Even though they’re projected to perform poorly, I think the staff will be solid enough to win games, led by Zito and Cain, and rounded out with Russ Ortiz who will be surprisingly useful. The lineup will struggle to score runs, but I believe Bonds will hit 30+ dingers to lead them. It’s not a stellar Giants team of ’02, but it’s not as bad as it’s been the past two years. Oh yeah, I think Armando Benitez will bounce back to have an awesome year, allowing the Giants to win an additional 7-8 games they had blown in past years.
So where my boys gonna finish right now: Probably 3rd in the division, around .500, behind the superior Padres and Dodgers, and just ahead of Arizona.
Can we be better than that: Yes, they can be slightly above .500 and challenge for the division. Conversely, if these old guys blow and/or get hurt (like Bonds, Benitez) they can finish in Colorado territory. Their performance this year is the most questionable in the division.